This post is Part 5 in the series Anatomy of a GREAT Group Ride. I highly recommend that you read PART ONE, PART TWO, PART THREE, and PART FOUR before launching into this final addition. Along the way, we’ve taken a detailed look at the different phases of a great Group Ride, starting with the Meet Up and ending with what you read below. So here goes, the wrap up to a GREAT Group Ride:
- The Roll-Back – The Roll Back happens after the Lead Out and Sprint where usually there’s a regrouping of the pack. This is an often over-looked aspect of any ride but I contend that it’s actually the most social aspect of any Group Ride. The ice has been broken. The riders have shared an experience. First, conversation focuses on the ride and the sprint. Tactics are discussed, close calls are dissected, and memories of similar rides come to mind. Then talk drifts towards the days activities, work, family, etc. It’s during the Roll Back that I get to know the folks that I’m riding with and catch up with old friends. This also happens at the Meet Up but if it’s an early ride I’m usually still just waking up when the ride departs. At the end, it’s a different story. Adrenaline from the ride wakens riders up and chatter is usually louder and more animated. We’ve had the best possible start to the day: a great ride.
- The Coffee – The ride’s come to an end and a GREAT Group Ride usually winds up at a great coffee shop. Cycling and coffee just go together. Try Googling “cycling and coffee” and you’ll get almost 20 million search results (at least I just did). Great coffee after a great ride is just right. After a Group Ride, I don’t always have the time to sit and chat as work and the day’s activities are bearing down. But when I do have the time, hanging around the coffee shop with other riders feels like a luxury. For those who are self-employed, set their own work schedules, or just have more time on their hands, conversations over coffee can go well into the morning. Along with the Roll-Back, if you’re looking to get to know your fellow riders, grabbing a cup o’ Joe or espresso after the ride is the best way to go.
- Character - Does the ride remain true to what it is? Is it meant to be a recovery ride or hammerfest? There’s nothing more annoying than waking up fresh with a desire to go hard and find out that someone decided that this particular morning we weren’t going to break 18mph. On the other hand, if I roll out to a Monday ride that’s well known as an easy spin because everyone’s usually recovering from a weekend of racing and a few riders skipped the races and decided to make our recovery ride a hammerfest, that’s my cue to find some other place to ride. A great, long-standing ride sticks to it’s character…or riders will go find another ride.
- Aesthetics - Finally, great aesthetics do matter. A Group Ride through the urban jungle may be all that’s available during the week but make sure to find a Group Ride that gets you out into the country at some point. The landscape of a ride, where the road takes you, across rolling fields, up a beautiful climb, adds to the adventure and sense that the bicycle is taking you somewhere. We all fell in love with the bicycle as children because it was this vehicle that allowed us to leave behind the 4 boring corners of our neighborhood and opened us up to a world of adventure. That feeling doesn’t have to go away just because we’re all grown up. The bike can still take you to beautiful, less traveled places that most people have never even seen.
Well, there it is! Hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Here are links to the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5. Is there anything I’ve missed? Anything else that should be included in what makes up a GREAT Group Ride? Thanks for reading.